Ruminations on love, relationships and marriage while watching Netflix’s “Indian Matchmaking”
In India, there are two forms of traditional marriage: a love marriage and an arranged marriage. With the help of a matchmaker, eligible singles are guided—many times due to societal and familial pressures—to prepare for the next chapter of their lives. In the latter arrangement, two individuals and families of the marrying couple come together, and the elders play an active role in making decisions for their marriage.
Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking just released the third season of the beloved reality TV dating show. From New York to New Delhi, renowned marriage consultant, Sima Taparia (fondly referred to as “Sima from Mumbai”), who “has had a passion [for] maintaining and recalling relationships since childhood” helps singles find romance by matching candidates with similar preferences and expectations.
Though many people dislike the seemingly archaic idea of matchmaking, strangely enough, the show gave me a sense of comfort.
In the second season, Aparna Shewakramani—a driven and assertive woman set in her ways—grieves the life she thought she would have at the age of 36. Unlike her peers, she’s unmarried and without a child. She laments, “There was a huge grieving process this year. You have to grieve the life that you thought you were gonna have. I mean, I was never gonna get married at 30, have my first kid at 32, have my second kid at 34, move into my McMansion at 36. So you have to go through the grief, the anger, the defeat.”
She adds, “I was a little angry that life didn’t just give me what I wanted. But once I said, ‘Go on this journey. Just do away with this notion that your life is gonna be what you thought it was gonna be, and then see what happens,’ I’m done with the life I thought I wanted.”
While more and more people are delaying the prospect of marriage for a number of reasons—a global phenomenon called waithood—I can’t say that I’m not thinking about it at the age of 30. It’s becoming increasingly apparent to me how everyone around me is getting married or having babies, and sometimes, I can’t help but feel left out.
Watching Indian Matchmaking, though sometimes frustrating because of Auntie Sima’s outdated (and sometimes unfeeling) ways, has brought healing to me. Though our understanding of marriage may be different from Indian culture as Filipinos, it has given me a greater understanding of love that is truly universal.
Here’s everything I learned about love from binge-watching three seasons of the Netflix reality dating series.
Nothing happens within your comfort zone
I always thought that love would just fall into my palm, and if only I were patient, it would find me waiting and whole. Fast forward to my late 20s, and I realized that I couldn’t expect rewards without taking any risks.
Many singles on Indian Matchmaking expect love to simply be handed to them—with a non-negotiable checklist that includes features like a “man bun” and “6 ft. and up”—but they eventually find out that they have to put in the work, too. That includes leaving space for compromise and seeing that surface-level traits aren’t the most important qualities you need in a life partner.
Rejection has nothing to do with you
In her book, She’s Unlikeable: And Other Lies That Bring Other Women Down, breakout Netflix star and newly-minted author Aparna Shewakramani explores likability and how society forces stereotypes, especially onto women in powerful positions. Though men in the show may have rejected her no-bullshit nature, she remained utterly sure of herself, confident and unwavering in her ways.
When things don’t work out, there’s often a temptation to look at an experience as “failure” and quit altogether. At the end of the day, you get to refine what you want in a long-term partner and you learn more about yourself. (Still, dating fatigue is real; make sure to take breaks as needed!)
Let destiny do its thing
For Shital Patel and Arti Lalwani, both women found romance outside of matchmaking. After they opened their hearts to love through the guidance of Auntie Sima, one found it on a dating app and the other, through an organic set-up.
Whether you believe in a Higher Being or in the goodness of the Universe, let destiny do its thing. You might just be surprised!
Stream Indian Matchmaking on Netflix.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver